116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
More Americans are being affected during the pandemic by depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, experts say, but many still face a stigma when discussing it.
Local officials hope to address that stigma and raise awareness about the importance of mental health care during a virtual community event. Make It OK Linn County is hosting A Community Call to Action from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The public can attend at no cost, but must register in advance.
To register, visit the Healthiest State Initiative website.
Thursday's virtual event will feature a keynote from Ben Nemtin, an author and international speaker known for his role on the MTV show, 'The Buried Life.”
According to organizers, Nemtin will focus his talk on his experience with mental illness.
The event also will feature panelists discussing their experiences with mental health conditions, including from an employer and a provider who will share strategies to on reducing stigma and supporting people in seeking help, said Anne Carter, who will be among community members on the panel.
Carter, who serves on the UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids board of directors, was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2008. After 10 years of hiding the diagnosis from others, she said she has become more open about discussing her experience, which has in return helped her come to terms with it.
'Every time I have said something, whether I've given a presentation or spoke at public forums, at least one person has come up after or sent a letter or email and shared their story and thanked me for speaking up,” Carter said.
The event also offers resources to those who may need help. According to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of the adult population in the United States reported the ongoing pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.
Additional stressors may have been felt in Linn County, event organizers said, pointing to the Aug. 10 derecho that damaged homes.
It's Carter's goal now to normalize the conversation. Doing so may not only prompt people to seek help, but may encourage others to offer assistance to their loved ones if they need help.
'One of the things I've observed in more recent years is that the better I'm able to talk to those around me about what I'm experiencing, the better able they'll be able to help me,” Carter said.
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